Sunday, September 3, 2023

Simply Plodding Along


As exciting as unexpected breakthroughs may be, most of genealogy involves simply showing up and doing the work, step by step. One name at a time, one document added each step of the way, and eventually the virtual paperwork takes shape in the form of a family tree.

That's mainly why, every two weeks, I step back to take a look at what's been accomplished in the past fourteen days of simply plodding along. A mere spark to re-ignite the joy, perhaps, but it keeps me moving on.

Most days, nothing exciting comes to pass. Knowing that the discovery of that new Dennis Tully line this summer could possibly lead to a mushrooming of my father-in-law's tree, I wasn't exactly surprised when I saw 458 new names added to the tree in the past two weeks, but it certainly was encouraging to see. My in-laws' tree now has 33,798 documented individuals listed. It's taken a little here, a little there for years to get to that point—but that's the point of it. Bit by bit, it all adds up, but each step of the way was really a tiny effort.

Sometimes—like yesterday, when I mentioned Ancestry's email alerting me to a new DNA match—there is a pleasant surprise. While I'm not working on my own parents' tree right now, that DNA match actually belonged to my mother's family. Adding that newfound relative to the tree actually garnered a total of seven new names, something I hadn't even expected right now with my research focus elsewhere. My parents' tree now has 33,907 names in place, all documented.

As I race through this new Tully line in my father-in-law's tree, I've been treated to "meeting" some new ancestral relatives. Many of them led average lives, but some had interesting stories, making me wish I could have had the chance to sit down with them and have a long talk about family history.

I suppose that is our collective regret in family history: loss of the many stories we may have missed when ancestors took them to the grave. Hopefully, despite the protective shield of privacy for the living, there may be opportunities to gather some of those family stories yet. 

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